The Silly Cameras: the Tragedy, the Obsolescence

They’re not antiques. They’re obsolete, in a great rushing herd two or three years after the iphone’s ~2008 advent, continuing ever since on their frantic stampede to oblivion & unmarked landfills. ... Except here, where I cherish their memory, and delight in their jejune real-camera looks and features.

And, to be sure, their cheapness. ... Regrettably, the laboratory’s sacred bargain-basement used DSLR was a wincing ~$200, but that’s still less than half the original toll, and many of the sillier cameras (if not all) were but a trifle even if they went for $100s new, and the rest of the silly cameras don’t have the DSLR’s embarrassingly scammy ridiculous flipping mirror or mechanical shutter. Although Olympus & Sony tried to make up for it with proprietary film/battery scams, and then there’s the beloved Kodak share scammery.

But I will insist that only an expert can tell a cheap used silly camera picture from the most expensive contemporary image — and that such experts often, astonishingly, have a vested interest in selling expensive cameras. Never ceasing to amaze. ... Of course, my obviously laughable paranoid prejudices could only be valid in a foto-flogging biz of unbelievably low ethical standards....

At any rate, here are my beloved obsolete mostly-inexpen$ive second-hand silly cameras, starting with the broken Canon A540 which wasn’t inexpensive when I bought it new in 2006 retail!

(But this guy’s got a better, older, bunch — with boxes!)

The Toys ...

Of course they’re beautiful, colorful — at least the pictures — intricate toys. ... But the foto fans indignantly deny it: they’re not toys, they’re important professional instruments which can be used to make big bucks in an exciting creative field. ... But sadly, the ascent of the digital cameras and the utter decline of any way of making money with them went together far before the iphone: the power of the computer & its fiendish software (& the resulting internet) made the profession as obsolete as the buggy whip, while the great newspapers & magazines & TV shows fell over like giant punctured balloons....


Various obscure attractions:   The DSLR    A540    Working A540    A1200 & the Road’s End    a650    The Forgotten    The Remembered   
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 The silly camera collection, II


My Broken 2006 6mp Canon A540: An Imaginary Enthusiast Point ’n’ Shoot

As an imaginary enthusiast myself, I guess I’m OK with that — it’s been a pretty good 6mp point-n-shoot camera pretending to have fancy enthusiast adjustments, but when I whirl the mode wheel nothing remotely related to shutter timing or aperture (Tv, Av, M) ever showed-up.

... I’ve apparently discovered its perfidy in the passing years before, and forgotten, as the calendar pages flutter by in the presumably black and white movie cliché. ... I vaguely remember struggling with it, refusing to read the manual — it made no **** sense anyway, which of course it didn’t — but since in these latter days I joined-up with the Holy Mirror DSLR cult and got my own beautiful flipping mystery mirror camera, I figured’d I’d be enlightened-enough at last to master the inscrutable A540; I thought the Mirror Mysteries might somehow show me the hidden truth.

... But they didn’t. So I searched A540 reviews @ Amazon for “aperture”, “shutter”, and “ISO”, and not one hit gave the slightest hint of anyone having actually used the features. ... Even the bad reviews didn’t complain about that complicated camera stuff. ... An online site lauded the P/Tv/Av/M modes and is quite convincing, as if he had a different, better, camera. ... After all this dubious no-fault-admitted internetery, I actually went and checked my DSLR and zoomer, to verify it was possible to adjust aperture etc. with at least some cameras, and I wasn’t somehow trapped in an alternate universe where Av/Tv were all nonfunctional....

I Am Alone

Finally recollected in tranquility, I concluded my addled A540 is, if not alone, at least in a minority. The way the positions on the shooting mode dial are mostly unrelated to the software behavior — it seems too weird for even the most dedicated idiot not to notice. ... Of course it took me 10 years....

It’s like a lesser point ’n’ shoot got grafted onto an A540 body, in some hideous Vincent Price-esque experiment gone horribly awry. It probably wasn’t unique — because these computery snafus almost never are — and was some kind of manufacturing software who-knows-what screw-up which uniquified more than a few A540s — and my unerring instinct guided me to one such, at the scammy camera stores wherein I spent so many joyous hours, who no doubt flogged the thing to me at a bargain price — $180, according to my ancient “diskette” file entry, around 12/06. And in my ignorance and sloth, I didn’t notice/bother to return it and get my money back — and Amazon says it had a “199.99 list price”, so I guess I was roundly gulled indeed in the golden vales of retail cameradom. And not for the first or last time....

The A540 successors, at least the A550, 560, 570, have lesser point ’n’ shoot wheels, with only a manual “M” for the pitiful enthusiast, although they could have the foto fan functions buried in there, although the a550 “advanced” manual seems to preserve omerta on the subject & I suspect not. However, they physically resemble the A540, and might well have had identical circuit boards except for a few tiny components you could hardly see, if at all, and perhaps that’s our sad story. ... Apparently the model #s start with the a510, which has an enthusiast model wheel.

How My Broken A540 Actually Works

Anyway, on reacquaintance I did eventually figure-out how I was probably supposed to set those non-existent speeds and apertures — by pressing the +/- button and then using the arrow keys (pdf 49 aka p47, advanced manual, “Manually Setting ...”). In some of the actual modes, that procedure does the exposure compensation thing (lighten/darken). But my wacko A540’s mode wheel is still abridged as per my illustration <=; the top “creative” side just does random “auto”s and “portrait”s. ... But it still seems to have video!

The Wonder & the Charm

It’s really amazing that I could spend a decade without noticing exactly how this thing doesn’t work. I remember being intensely puzzled when I couldn’t set the aperture. I could do that with the zoomer but that wondrous device’d always run out of power in a few minutes, and it seemed the photographic furies were determined to deny me my high f-stop/depth-of-field in-focus photography. And so they did, for around a decade. With the assistance of dedicated industry scammery and, to be sure, my distracted inattention, until the iphone camera wiped the slate....

As an inspiring wacko fluke my impaired point ’n’ shoot has its own special charm, and is eminently suited for membership in the owenlabs Silly Camera Collection — the entire DSLR concept itself is a bathetic fake, so whyever not? There were probably few returns — aberrant A540s or DSLRs — ’cause who knows what all that foto fan stuff is supposed to do anyway?!?!

Broken A540 versus iPhone

Any SD camera, even my wacko A540, has it over the iphone in the getting-hold-of-pictures department — even if, as everybody knows by now, the phone’s usually a better camera at least considering it’s in your pocket and the camera’s not. ... I use an intricate dropbox/wireless system to get pictures out of the snooty iphone, and when it works it’s OK. But at a motel for instance I must connect my computer and iphone to the local malware/spam generator — well, if I want the pix soon; otherwise just the laptop. ... And even at the home base, during the periodic wireless router explosions that we all know & love, it’s a pain.

Of course other non-Apple phones (and my addled A540) have the SD/µSD “film” which can be removed and stuffed into an inexpensive USB card reader. Aside from my A540’s peculiar disabilities and shamefully low megapixel count, its remaining features are not unlike the iphone’s camera, but better, with the convenient SD and a zoom lens and a viewfinder. And I don’t believe in those megapixels anyway. ... Except for the ravishing Baryta prints[11].

... And then, in the wandering mists of time and computer files, I found that my beloved gifted this thing to me, @ xmas 2006! ... So now I can blame her! ... Oh what a relief....

The Time Changes

And then in the fullness of days & years @ 6/17 the beloved wacko a540’s time battery ran out! ... So with my attentive main battery replacement policies, the time battery lasted over a decade. I know this because I had no idea there was a time battery until I bought the working A540, so obviously I hadn’t replaced it before....

A Working A540?

I bought another A540 at Amazon, where it was $35 used! — but, sadly, too used; some little component within had fallen over never to get up again, and it would always plaintively whimper for the date/time every time it was turned-on. And I returned it to Amazon, no questions asked. ... And then realized a month or so later the tiny fallen-over part was the date battery which if I’d just had half a wit I could’ve gotten it up again myself! ... The vendor should’ve supplied the camera in working condition anyway — or at least told me....

But it did have more-or-less working software, at least corresponding to the mode wheel, as opposed to my beloved broken rendition. ... And I did not despair; there were more of them, and as I was now a date/time battery expert I bought one and some CR1220 date batteries for the same price — the used A540 got cheaper in the interval, in the ever-shifting Amazon used camera market.

The Time Battery

And my new-old A540 came, and its little coin battery was indeed dead as the dodo, and it remembered not its date or time and pestered me at every power-on, as before. The coin battery’s rôle, I believe, is to power the clock while the user changes the main batteries or opens the compartment to get the SD card so he can look at its pictures on his computer. But, honoring the ancient tradition of retail camera sales — and so the AA batteries won’t leak and destroy the thing — the vendor stores it without AA batteries, which puts the whole load on the coin battery which rapidly depletes, and of course who would ever think of installing new batteries, coin or AA, for the sale?!? ... So replacing the CR1220 coin battery cured its pitiful memory lapse and now it is perfect and good as new. ... Well actually its LCD & viewfinder are more scarred than my carefully-preserved broken unit, but that’s just more authenticity....

And my original poor confused A540 has retired to a Silly Camera shelf — on top of its original box! — to photograph no more forever ... well at least until the “new” old one breaks. I did an SD-ectomy so the decade’s worth of A540 pictures live on in their new/old resurrected home. ... But I will cherish my time of A540 mystery as a kind of photographic anti-paradisiacal Tempest, where I played the brave-new-world innocent — since I was obviously not the wizard....

The Road’s End: 2011 12mp Canon A1200

... I was having so much fun I thought I’d get a (2011) A1200 with 12 megapixels — the same extravagant resolution as the sacred ~2008 DSLR itself — and only $52 used @ amazon. ... They seemed to have dumped the point ’n’ shoot viewfinders after that — the cheap flavor anyway — which is why I am doomed to live in the battery-conserving past — but that’s right, my beloved viewfinders are ecological! Who knew?!?!

... But I reached too far: the glories of the mode wheel, that were so peculiarly broken on my original A540, were buried or worse in the A1200 menus, and in my unseemly hobbyist enthusiast haste I didn’t notice there is no way to set the aperture or exposure; it’s compulsory automatic — all that’s left is that pitiful deceptive “P”, providing access to a dubious group of supposedly “creative” tricks. So, failing to cancel in time, I considered returning the precious artifact which displeaseth me, and enduring shameful Amazon penalties.

... Then again, it’s so cute. And it still has a viewfinder. And its primitive “P” mode provides exposure-compensation at least, an actually-useful feature for those who want to capture images of anything other than standard portraits — in my case, the sun-dappled woods through a cabin window. And as I actually bother using these silly features, it turns-out I can leave the flash off in the “P” mode, and on in “auto”, suppressing the minor annoyance of turning the flash off/on (i.e. with software + buttons) which I otherwise experience with the adorable devices, and thus more conveniently accommodate convulsive snapshotting & delusional art pix. ... But still no baryta paper....

And the only reason I want the megapixels is for occasional detail extraction (i.e. with a paint program), which I could do with the sacred DSLR or the zoomer but as I’ve probably failed to conjure-up despite these endless diatribes I find those devices too annoying for casual/ez use — although they are beautiful and sacred, at least if I turn the LCD off. ... And actually, despite my preoccupation with f-stops and other snooty foto-fan technical arcana, all my antique digital camera images then and now were actually taken in auto, except for my pitiful would-be high f-stop zoomer failures. ... And so the A1200’ll be my end-of-the-road marker in my poignant early-onset-ancien camera adventures: thus far can I go on the silly camera road, but no further. ... And it fits in the fallen Nikon’s tiny (brandx) camera bag.

... But then after quite a while I forgot how to turn-off the LCD in “auto” mode! I actually tried to “make-do” with the SCN portrait thing before I realized with extravagant embarrassment I wasn’t using auto mode at all, but instead the “easy” heart-in-a-camera mode ... which, of course, lights-up the halogen-bright LCD. The actual auto is perfectly content to work without the LCD. ... Whew. ... But oh, look =>, they got a fisheye effect!

Silly Camera Tip

As alluded-to above, I figured-out how to set the “P” mode on the A1200 an fstop-or-so dark — 1⅓ actually — and it turns-out that numerous compositions involving sunlight and shadow are good that way. Not people probably, but mysterious shadow and light patterns, indoors and out. ... Chiaroscuro. The effect could easily be achieved, no doubt, with the beloved paint program brightness/contrast adjustments, but that would be cheating....

$tupid Market

Thus I progressed through the golden years of cute Canon cameras and my options became limited, as the beloved photography market got ever $tupider. ... After I stumbled upon the transcendently-obscure $16 five mp Canon A610, the only cheapo version I could find @ amazon with a decent mode wheel and more pixels — a mere 8mp — was the ~$40 A630.

... I am limiting myself to Canons, but I’m assuming the featureitis tracks-enough (or worse) to hardly be worth bothering about, and my broken latch experience with my Nikon (and a Kodak point ’n’ shoot in another age) persuades me Canon’s a reasonable prejudice since nothing physical’s broken off my beloved Canons. And really my broken A540 served me well nevertheless as an often turned-to point & shoot, even if I never figured-out how it worked, because it didn’t.

... But I consider Canon the originator of the ur-silly camera, the millennial ~$3K (body-only of course) EOS D30 DSLR. ... Well, the cheapest originator — there was also the Nikon D1 (~$4.5k) & Fujifilm S1 Pro (~$3.5k). ... And then in “How to choose the right camera for the eclipse” p 50 Astronomy 4/17 the fellow writes that “the first successful commercial full-frame DSLR was the Canon 1D, introduced in 2002.” ... Anyway I think Canon gets the prize, and obviously dominates the pitiful tattered remaining market today, because it won the competitive/promotional sweepstakes no doubt at least partly because the Canons worked better. Mostly....

But back in the real world, Amazon’s got a used 2006 10mp Canon A640 — the more-pixels sister of my A610 — for $100; $170[3] for the 12mp 2007 A650! ... Obviously some other lunatics are buying these cameras, probably for reasons like mine — viewfinder, aperture/shutter adjustment — even if the prices are hurtful to my tender sensitivites. ... I imagine at least some purchasers are those whose beloved old Canon finally bit the dust and, after investigation, couldn’t stand the au courant overpriced/performance dungeon....

The 8/07 12mp Canon A650 IS & the Batteries of Doom (& Deoxit)

After a few days, my fiendishly-expensive $170 A650 turned on me & snarled — with an almost invisible upside down “change batteries” message on the LCD, which I wouldn’t’ve seen if I’d turned the LCD to its protective position — and otherwise was silent and dead. Cruising through denial & anger I arrived at bargaining and googledcanon a650 recharge batteries message” and found yesterday’s innocent victims bending up bits of metal in the battery compartment which oddly I haven’t done yet with any of the cameras (until the sp310), although it’s a common laboratory procedure for balky battery clocks & etc. ... And naturally, many of the complaints were indistinguishable from the super bright LCD battery-failure feature common to all the digital cameras.

... So I changed batteries a few times, all of which worked good, even the original set, which in itself implies intermittent contact problems just as the googled complained — those batteries didn’t get stronger in the trash. ... I looked in the battery compartment with a light and the little spring-up things seemed of excellent attitude & springiness. The battery door has cute intricate little bits of metal and plastic and perhaps in the wandering years a bit of gunk/corrosion got somewhere somehow, randomly reappearing to appall the innocent silly camera fan. But I applied the sovereign remedy DeOxit to the batteries + compartment, using a toothbrush on the door, and still it works, after the passage of days.

... And I am bemusedly-content, and my bargain/nostalgia hunt has paused with a point ’n’ shoot around the same price — and date — as my beloved & sacred DSLR. ... Of course I then proceeded to further curatorial / senseless / cheaper acquisition activities....

Marvels of the East ...

From Dpreview I learned of this guy who validates my idiotic purchase by taking the most amazing snowflake pictures with an a650. He has astonishingly complex elaborations, including the “well-known lens reversal macro technique”: he attached his a650 and a respectable 50mm lens pointing the wrong way in front of it on a board holding them together.

He also uses “CHDK — Canon Hack Development Kit” which is “resident” on his SD card and lets him take holy raw pictures (sort-of) + heaven knows what else, but the CHDK web site @ http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK had at least one couldn’t-close pop-up on a linked page when I visited one dark & stormy night, strange & marvelous as it undoubtedly is. ... Eventually I rewarded the guy for his wonder and beauty by buying a snowflake tote bag from him — which’ll probably get me investigated by that comey guy....

Money for Nothing

I toyed with getting a modérn point ’n’ shoot with appropriate enthusiast features and viewfinder, but once I figured-out how to petition the oracle — I beseeched Amazon for “electronic viewfinder camera” — there wasn’t much. There were hordes of recent ≥$500 cameras, but the few recent “cheap” zoomers included a 2014 16mp Nikon P530, $235, and a 2010 14mp Fujifilm FinePix S2800HD for $180 / $90 used. ... Both with aperture/shutter/manual modes and the precious EVF. ... But indeed these are but my already-EVFed Kodak zoomer + a few tortured years of dubious featureitis / pixels, and they stir not my gadget lust nor joy.

To my considerable surprise there are actually Canon non-DSLR optical viewfinder cameras from as late as 2012, at least the ridiculously priced $590 Canon PowerShot G1 X was still for sale at Amazon. However its glittering $650 successor the 2014 Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II has only an “electronic (optional)” viewfinder, the $202 Canon EVF-DC1, making an $852 EVF point ’n’ shoot! Which pricing level seems to be common these days. ... And shamefully, the Mark II’s got fewer megapixels — 12.8 versus the G1 X’s 14.3!

My 5/02 2mp Nikon Coolpix 2000: The Forgotten Point ’n’ Shoot

A thing of beauty no doubt, and I found seventy images from it on at least one CompactFlash and an archived CDR — but I had no memory of the camera. ... My only clue was when pspx8 reported the pictures were from a “Nikon E2000” and I don’t doubt it, but it must’ve snuck into my hands and out because as opposed to all my other revered treasures it has left not a trace except for the jpegs. ... Well actually it turned-out I had a folder stuffed with the manual and everything, and an undated Walmart web receipt, but I got it for $250 @ 2/2/03; I must’ve been flush in those days! ... But no camera; maybe the battery door broke off as usual, and I tossed it — shamefully not foreseeing I might’ve rescued it with blue tape & a screwdriver. ... But nevertheless it will not be left behind and it is memorialized here, for so many minutes as this web page shall last. ... Apparently I happily took pictures with this viewfinderless thing from 2/03 to 6/08. And even bought a few “Digital Camera” magazines along the way! ... Oh the ruined temples ... the fallen idols....

9/00 Kodak 1mp DC3200

I do seem to run through these things, but at least I remember my 2001 Kodak DC3200 perfectly well and of course it has a secure place in the silly camera collection. And an adorable genuine Kodak soft case! ... I took numerous undated 1mp images through its viewfinder, filling-up a compact flash card or so with its tiny 200k jpeg files. Its battery door broke after a few months, and Kodak sent me a “refurbished” replacement upon my indignant complaint. ... But the batteries lasted OK — no “live” view in those dark days.

Aiptek CUO-L22

And who could forget the tiny beloved Aiptek? ... Apparently the entire internet, where it googles not. A discard of the LOL, it is without viewfinder but takes very fine 1mp pictures and videos. We bought it in a bubblepack in Walmart or Target. ... And I forgot or never knew it can take 3mp jpegs! ... But it still seems to have a poor opinion of 2GB SD cards.

... My forgotten media nevertheless contain many fondly-remembered images which’ve appeared on the countless screen savers about owenlabs for years, even as I forgot the cameras. ... And now they’ve come home to the silly camera collection; in paradise. ... Including my beloved broken A540....

2/10 12mp Nikon Coolpix L22

But then another Nikon bubbled-up in the mists, which I have undoubtedly somehow confused with the beautiful Coolpix 2000. This L22 — no relation apparently of my tiny Aiptek — I got at best buy @ 9/26/10 for $119.47, and it also has no viewfinder! ... What a fan I was! ... And it also has an assortment of beautiful images from its up-to-date SD card, but fewer than the elusive e2000. Not as beloved apparently; mostly attic work-related junk back in the day, important technical pix, etc. ... This Coolpix survived in the flesh, until I took its last picture, in Florida, and the battery/card door broke off, as is usual with the crummier sillier cameras. ... Sadly I retired it to the silly camera shelf nevermore to take its lovely pictures — and transferred its SD card to the beautiful A610.

... But behold, it is resurrected with blue tape and will stumble-on in the silly camera collection as long as it shall wave. ... The blue tape isn’t ideal — well it’s never exactly ideal, but with cameras which have a separate door for the film the blue tape’ll just close the battery compartment. But I did change the film anyway, ’cause the first laboratory sample wouldn’t go, and the blue tape came-off and went back on without much struggle. ... A tasteful invigoring solution.

... But sadly it lasted not the weary night, and the tape came off; if I have to make a special effort to tape it just right, and it worked, that’d take all the fun out of it anyway. ... On to the tripod mount! ... Which, sadly, didn’t really work any better. Even if I was a master metal/plastic artisan and could fashion some cunning gadget that just fit, still the monstrous force the stupid little camera’s battery compartment exerts’ll probably undo the mostly-plastic fixture. And of course it’s really ugly — not at all up to the gay æsthetic of the blue tape....

The Abusive Screwdriver

Maybe I’ll try to do something about the battery springs. ... While poking in there, I at last noticed that even ’though broken, the battery door is “more” closed if it gets pushed back in a little, which I had apparently not detected through endless blue tapery, and the blue tape seems to work better that way, actually surviving the night! And it seems the 3/4“ flavor of painters tape works better than the wider stuff — so I can see that the door is in the right position as I tape it. ... And then I abused the battery springs viciously with a crude screwdriver and they definitely settled down a bit. ... So now it will be perfect. At least for a few precious days ... or hours. It’s certainly odd how these pitiful battery doors afflict me and their occasional partial renovation gives such simple-minded joy. ... I do so want them to live and take pictures, and I haven’t the faintest idea why. ... And perhaps the astonishingly virile battery springs are an explanation for the frightful fatality rate of silly camera battery doors. ... Perhaps it was some dubious manufacturing strategery to make sure the dopey user’s batteries’ll work no matter how stupid he is....

Remembrance of things past

The byways and overgrown wandering paths of American junk stores and random web rumors throw-up an occasional precious remnant of the dearly-departed digital cameras’ golden age, which I will treasure and heap with delighted scorn. ... Also of course see the torrid adventures of my Canon A540s ... and mysterious travails with the A1200 and A650.

... I should note that the golden age camera fan should know the name of its desiderata; just googling “used canon cameras” infallibly shows-up vast herds of relatively-recent expen$ive junk, but “Canon A650” led me (@ 12/26/16) directly to a ~$110 amazon hit (for which I eventually splurged $170 in a pricier season).

4/16. In a preliminary warmup, before I realized my life’s mission to recover the world’s low-rent digital camera saga slipping so shamefully into oblivion, I stumbled across the 8/05 Canon five megapixel A610 at a junk store, in America, with batteries, manual!, a 512 megabyte SD card and two beautiful pictures, of the junk store — and aperture/shutter priority / manual modes — i.e. a working mode wheel — and so much more! ... And a viewfinder of course, or I wouldn’t’ve bothered. ... Its sister cameras, the A620 through A650, had seven to 12 mp, but I got the cheap seats for $16....

Yesterday’s point ’n’ shoots, even my broken A540, still take lovely pictures, at least to my déclassé taste — even my pitiful Nikon viewfinderless L22 (2010), whose battery door latch broke off, still had beautiful pictures inside. ... While I will of course observe the religious pieties and worship my treasured DSLR and its wildly pricey descendants & cohorts, at least in a would-be amusingly hypocritical way, the cheap older toys are just so nice. ... So unpretentious; so friendly. ... And indeed in the day they were a considerable bit more hostile — $100s more: the A610 was $250 MSRP. But it was $30 used @ amazon (~9/16?), so I still got a bargain.

... And oh be still my beating heart — the A610 has a tiltable rotating LCD screen, so I can run out of batteries in the finest style! ... I replaced the A610’s 512mb card with the vast 2gb broken Nikon SD, and I can still see the Nikon 12mp pictures on the beautiful LCD. ... And I can take 729 more pitiful 5mp pictures. ... I am so lucky....

8/16. For our first official memory lane diversion, let’s give a senseless silly camera welcome to the 4/05 4mp Samsung Digimax A402 — still for sale @ amazon prime for $120! (10/12/16; later visits got $40.) ... There’s a lovely macro mode with the canonical tulip LCD indicator, but unfortunately nothing in the manual on how to turn it off — it’s a plastic ring around the lens, probably so it’d look like it had at least one fancy feature ... or maybe it actually focuses the lens or something. ... An ugly small blot of dead LCD pixels doesn’t affect operation, once I figured-out the fuzziness was the macro setting. ... The A402 is heart-breakingly cute ... but no viewfinder; and phony digital zoom....

9/16. Next up is the also-4-megapixel 1/05 4mp Kodak EasyShare Z700 — with a viewfinder, and a real 5x zoom, and dpreview claimed amazon has it for only $368.88 (amazon’s contemporary pre-owned prices were from $39.99 @ 6/17). My junk store got $30 from me, but the Z700 had its little Kodak promotional stickers still intact, and the SD has a few out-of-focus shots along with an image or two of the canonical kindly junk store lady. ... It came with a Kodak “KAA2HR” rechargeable battery pack in it, which presumably might recharge via a micro USB (?) receptacle — oops, wait, ol’ perfidious kodak just couldn’t resist, and used a wacko receptacle for the USB cable which I’ve duly ordered from Amazon for $6 — nope nope just didn’t calibrate my Kodak perfidy good, or I suppose I could’ve read the manual, although that’s hardly reliable....

No, the USB cable doesn’t seem to power the camera or charge it; it just connects it to your computer when you’re feeling suicidal, and the cute proprietary Kodak battery pack is so I could buy a custom charger which even Amazon is vague about. So I’ll stick with my readily-available/rechargeable NiMH AAs and keep the pitiful little cable/battery as yet another precious silly camera memento. ... At least it wasn’t the proprietary battery scam I momentarily dreaded after I installed some AAs the wrong way three times but, no, sigh, all is well and the camera lights-up in beauty.

And when I changed the batteries in latter days, I realized why it’s do difficult: (1.) the little printed illustration is obscured by the batteries so once I put the left one in, I can’t see it; and (2.) the illustration so-ingeniously shows how the batteries would look if you were inside the camera at the bottom of the battery well — not, as the entire rest of the world does in such cases, how the batteries should look once they’re inserted. When of course I can’t see the illustration anyway, I suppose. ... Moving right along from Kodak incompetence to scammery: there’s an imitation filter screw thread around the lens! ... If you could actually mount anything there it would be broken-off when the camera lens extended as it does @ every power-on, but the Kodak scamster boffins figured people’d think the thread makes it a more “sophisticated” camera, and so thoughtfully ginned-up an imitation.

Anyway, according to dpreview it’s got aperture/shutter priority! Menu-based no doubt, ’cause no mode-wheel positions — but I lie; there’s the “PAS” aka “Program Aperture Shutter” position, which position produces a handy menu on the bottom of the screen. ... But it still honors the digital camera’s — and especially Kodak’s — highest ideal 3-minute battery life with its power-annihilating “Live view” — which I could turn off, but only in “auto” mode; all the other thronging modes including the adept’s “PAS” ignore the “Live View” setting and light-up the battery-draining halogen bright LCD for your battery-destruction pleasure. ... But wait! There is an “LCD” button! ... So I can’t default Live View “off” for anything but auto, but I can turn it off, with the button, if I remember. It’s probably like that ’cause Kodak’s low-rent software afrits were unable to distinguish between the necessary menu elements — essential in the PAS mode and presumably others — and the halogen bright LCD “Live” view. ... So sad. ... But cute....

I bought a broken 2/99 (!) Olympus “Camedia” 2mp C-2000 Z for $2 or so at a local group garage sale around 6/16. The viewfinder was obviously gershtunk, and the camera got resurrected amidst the constant search for new junk to conquer around 3/17 when I was considering various Olympus cameras and their dubious SmartMedia electronic film which, all on its own, eminently qualifies for association with the silly camera collection. The format disappeared pretty early in the march of foto fraud, although the wikipedia article is mute as to dates — but be sure to see the “Format errors and data loss” section. ... PC USB readers for SmartMedia are not common; I found one at amazon — oh so sad it’s “currently unavailable”, but there appear to be others; try “USB SmartMedia SM XD card reader” in the amazon search field. ... However, I will persevere, and make the silly camera collection safe for StupidMedia cameras — although I’ll probably stay away from the special battery scams; oddly, the C2000 takes AAs.

... I should note Olympus was a piker in this field compared to Sony, whose cameras not only used proprietary “memory sticks” but also battery/chargers; I assume Olympus just didn’t have the industrial oomph to scam batteries, although at least one Olympus I’ve encountered had an obscure battery, at least. ... And of course all the sacred DSLRs et al use proprietary batteries/chargers....

Fortunately my StupidMedia reader appeared in a little while, because I was unable to get an even stupider option going, the amazing diskette-based FlashPath gadget, $9.99 at amazon, windows 98/XP/Windows 2000 drivers included. My up-to-date 2011 windows 7 USB diskette drive saw it not; which, to be sure, was warned-of on the internet jungle drums. ... But it is a precious artifact of the times and, after all, it was pretty clever of Toshiba et al to provide a USB-like attachment hack in 1999, when the other cameras — and I know, I was there — had appalling RS-232 barely-working schemes.

Resurrection!

But since I had gone through the trouble of procuring the amazing StupidMedia cards, I put one in the C2000, and Lo!it worked! ... Even the “defective” viewfinder sprang back to a slightly speckled life: apparently before, without power, it was showing the focus of the retracted lens, and that makes it a high-class feature instead of a broken viewfinder, and the wonders never cease.

... And the USB stupidmedia reader showed-up and worked wonderfully! ... My beautiful ~2mp Olympus jpgs in all their stunning glory. ... And now, flush with StupidMedia capability, I can buy more cameras!


10/16. Infrared adventures led me to the inspiring 4/05 Canon 5mp S2 IS, a mere $55 (used of course) at Amazon! Might’ve been $300 in the day. ... Maybe I should’ve got one of these instead of my stupid zoomer — the S2’s got 12x zoom ’n’ image stabilization and shutter and f-stop settings ’n’ everything! ... Of course the S2 was supposedly $460 (?) and only 5mp, and the Kodak’s got 30x zoom, so maybe I wasn’t so stupid, although the S2 should’ve got cheaper by 2011 — but I was ignorant, which is how the racket works. (But I really should’ve got the $x20.) ... But now, through the magic of accelerated retrospective enthusiast camera acquisition I get a redo, and really, megapixels are so yesterday — after my 1mp DC3200 in 2001 I didn’t care — unless I wanted to blow-up something.

... Indeed after I got the thing working and took some pictures, and discovered the pernicious digital zoom was enabled and, after suppressing it, decided to do the all-important reset everything function — and then I discovered I’d been taking 2mp pictures! And how little difference it made, at least in the Faststone browser — neither picture size fit on my 1980x1080 “Full HD” screen, and clicking them to see a 100% view and scroll around hardly seemed to make much difference....

The gaff is all-but-obvious in contemporary photo puffery magazines, where every page glamorizes how you’ll want to print[11] your beautiful creations as large as anything! Why, you’re hardly a photographer if you don’t print lots of big junk. ... Which must be my problem — even before the cameras, I was a digital kind of guy and wasn’t really into printing stuff so much — maybe I got all blasé from working in the biz. ... And after all, we all sit in front of these screens, and most of us — not me, to be sure — live & work in wretched cubicles — so what’s all this printing stuff?!

... Well my children it’s so the sneaky merchandisers can sell the cameras, see? — not to mention the printers — otherwise you might as well use your phone. ... And actually when I printed my S2 infrared picture, it didn’t look good until I cropped it a lot to highlight the ghostly palms in the center. ... Probably my cheap crummy printer. But I needed the pixels for the crop....

S2 Tragedy!???

Oh so sad! ... It was broken and only displayed a “NO IMAGE” message — which for some reason I concluded was supposed to mean a TV was plugged into the tiny socket which of course wasn’t. But I was wracked with guilt & anxiety that I wasn’t clever-enough to figure-out how the stupid thing worked, just like my “working” A540 tragedy. ... And so it was, silly enthusiast that I am, it actually says “NO IMAGE” when the SD card’s empty! ... Of course! ... I was such a fool! ... Well really the S2’s adorable and quaint, and the power button is a two-way affair, one way of which sets it to play the images on the SD card, which is when it says “NO IMAGE” if you just put in a blank new SD card like I did. ... I must work on my hair-trigger return-the-junk tendencies....

So to make up for my gormless cluelessness, I bought it a 58mm adapter which is supposed to let me use my beloved DSLR toys and especially the superlatively silly infrared filter with the beautiful Canon S2 IS, like the infrared guy did — but my $13 brandx adapter was probably cheaper than his[11]....

2/17. In a demented burst of completism, I got a $31 amazon 8/06 Canon 8mp A630 ($295 new!), so I’ve got a spectrum of Canon A6s: 610/630/650. ... I’ve made its space in the silly camera collection and I’m sure it’ll be wonderful whenever it turns-up — and so it is! Except the auto-lens cover thing was sticky and stuck at or so open, but I heroically cleaned it with antique Kodak lens cleaner + a lens cloth + a derelict toothbrush, and now it works perfectly and will do so forever! ... Probably why it was cheaper than previous rumors.

The Attachments

... & then, like the true fan-boy hobbyist idiot I am, or at least aspire to be, I finally noticed the whole A6 series has an attachment feature, so one can install meretricious behavior-modifying lens gadgets that won’t work with the optical viewfinder, requiring the battery-draining LCD.

... So I must get some! ... Indeed, my beloved ur-silly camera the A540 has the feature, which I have cruelly neglected/not-noticed since I bought the broken thing in 2006! ... So I will scour the junk marts of amazon & ebay for suitable treats. ... These attachment gadgets are different for the various silly cameras, even in the same series. And I had assumed/hoped the gadget-mounting end of the attachment at least would all be 58mm like the beloved S2, which matches the DSLR kit lens and its silly add-on toys — the S2, incidentally is the only one with an EVF so I don’t have to drain the battery for attachment excitement. ... But no; there are at least some 52mm. ... And the a610-a640 range doesn’t use the same adapter, so I had to return the fabulously fraudulent amazon gadget which asserted that claim and didn’t fit my a630 or 610. Although I must say, reviews of two such products — i.e. which claim the 620 through 640 range use the same adapter — say it works great. Probably all fake — even “verified purchases” would only cost the sneaky merchandiser whatever % amazon takes for one or two fraudulent reviews.

... And so I will recommend “snapitdigital” in Brooklyn (!) who I googled-up on ebay (!) and who managed to send me a working 52mm / A540 attachment gadget with telephoto + wide-angle for a mere $40 what showed-up in a week or two. And I learned that not only must I turn-on the LCD, but that I can’t use the flash, ’cause the lens thingey sticking-out casts a shadow. ... This is the kind of important professional insight you can’t get from those magazines.

... And finally I got a 760nm infra-red filter with a 52mm thread, so I can take exquisite 12mp infra-red pictures with my a650 at least....


3/2/17. An 8/03 Nikon 3mp Coolpix 3100 3x zoom was $20 used @ amazon (only $350 list), and it came with a box — “pocket full of pixels” it gaily promises — manual, and accessory cables! And a compact flash with summer + winter w/grandpa pix, presumably ~ 2003; he never set-up the camera date/time. ... But it takes lovely pictures, like all the silly cameras.

... & I am minded of the cultic path: the seeker buys practically any camera since ~2001 or so, and when it’s not “good” enough, he’s conned into buying a “better” camera. But his pictures aren’t defective; they’re boring, because most picture are boring, but some kind of jedi/zen hermetic rigor will convince him that $Ks in cameras’ll make interesting pictures, at last. ... And such is the one-fold way....

But the lovely picture of the 2003 suburban cul-de-sac is interesting ... somehow....


At 3/20/17. A 4/01 ~2mp Canon PowerShot A20 3x zoom, also $20 used @ amazon. ... List price $600! — no wonder I didn’t buy these things in the day. But it has all the features, white balance, continuous shots, macro, etc etc. ... And I got 256 pictures left to take on the 256Mb compact flash generously included in the $20.

And I was shocked to discover the A20 pictures looking fuzzier than the rest of the herd! ... But it was just acute foto fan confusion, due in the first place by the 640x480 (VGA resolution) pictures that the A20 was set to when I got it. Then after that got belatedly fixed, I’d accidentally enlarge a decent 2mp pictures to 100% or worse and of course it’d look all pixelated. but when I reduced the pictures (i.e. in paint/viewer software) to look “normal”, i.e. centered on half or a third of the screen, widely-varying megapixel pictures looked comparably sharp.

... To put this another way, the 2mp pictures’ apparent resolution is limited by the “low” resolution of my modern-bog-standard “HD” 1920x1080 LCD screens, and I could doubtless waste money on ever higher resolution 27’’-and-up LCDs that would reveal the inadequacies of 2001 two megapixel cameras much better. Except I don’t want to do that — I mean, even the wildy scammy enthusiast photo magazines don’t dare suggest it.


3/22/17. A 5/02 3mp Olympus C-720 Ultra-Zoom eight times zoom, a hefty $37 at the amazon previously-owned wonder emporium ... but $600 list! ... And it has a lens cover, which is so much cooler than the other point ’n’ shoots’ self-covering retracting lenses, although this one still retracts — well actually I see my Olympus C-2000 should’ve had a lens cover, exhibiting shocking naked glass even at retracted power-off. The 720, also, uses the wondrous StupidMedia, a mark of antique distinction, soon disappearing in the mists of the wandering years. ... And of course they both take beautiful pictures, like all the silly cameras. ... And then I belatedly realized the C-720 has an EVF, the luxurious little thing.


3/27/17. In a perfectly respectable effort to bring more silly into the silly camera collection, March Maddness continues with a $29.99 1/00 3mp Nikon Coolpix 990 with a 3x zoom. It is silly, but really, more stupid; the rotating thing seems mostly annoying — although while the manual hasn’t heard of “selfies”, the camera can easily take one, but then lots of non-wacko cameras with cute rotating LCDs could too.

The cp990 came with a 1/3-full 1mb CF card, but the photography’s not as high-toned as my Nikon 3100, being images of the probably-youthful photographer’s family / friends. Although as the pictures appear on the laboratory’s extensive screen saver array, they kind-of grow on me. ... And I think I’ve finally got one of these things that’s actually broken, at least the manual seems to think the optical viewfinder should track the zoom like a decent Canon point ’n’ shoot, but it doesn’t, and makes sad groaning noises instead....

Innerestingly, the camera in its day was priceless: the totally-unbiased impartial reviews all omit a price, no doubt at the strict totally-unbiased impartial behest of Nikon. ... So I will assume it was $1,000 originally — which is not farfetched, maybe even low. It’s three megapixels & the year 2000. ... Well OK that’s unlikely; probably a mere $700 or $800, like the year 2000 3mp Canon cameras. Although the cp990’s got the special feature stupid rotating thing....


3/29/17. In perhaps the final episode of March deMentia, an extravagant $40 bought me a 7/03 5mp Sony DSC-V1 with proprietary battery (Sony NP-FC11 3.6V 2.8WH) and proprietary memory stick that can’t be read in my entire collection of readers (two; memory stick “pro”?). But the $40 also got a charger and a standard (!) mini-USB cable which, plugged into the camera, produces the Sony pictures as an external drive and transferred OK — which is astonishingly less screw-the-customer than the 2011 Kodak. ... Also I got a precious original box, and a brandx camera bag.

But I think this may be my furthest excursion into the magic of proprietary scammery. And the camera of course was priceless, but probably originally ~$500, the price of the 6/03 Canon 5mp powershot G5 — see, Sony’d charge approximately the same, and then screw the customer with proprietary accessories — which they all do to be sure, to a greater or lesser extent, a grand foto fan cult tradition. ... It’s almost amusing, reading the amazon reviewers of various would-be memory stick readers, and the authoritarian know-it-all who explains how it reads perfectly well, it just won’t read “pro” memory sticks, as if “what’d you expect!?!?! ” — although they obviously fit into the memory stick slot in my pitiful readers. ... And here’s a thoughtful analysis of various memory cards including the beloved memory stick ... search the page for “memory stick”. ... As the feisty columnist Dvorak said of Windows 10, “I’m amazed it works at all”. ... But wait! Here’s an official Sony website with the most amazing chart, from which I think I learned that my adorable memory stick is indeed the “pro” — not the “pro duo” which of course is an entirely different component, only to be used/accessed with an extravagantly-obscure adapter hardly known to man nor camera. ... And I bought another $7.99-at-least usb reader, what an amazon commenter claimed read his memory stick pro; which will be delivered, appropriately, on 4/1. ... And it works! So I bought some more....

But anyway, amazon had some battery/charger things supposedly for the DSC-V1 Sony NP-FC11 3.6V 2.8WH battery, so I bought one for $12. ... The card reader after all is just luxury; if I have some kind of mental convulsion and buy another Sony camera — but then its memory sticks wouldn’t be compatible anyway — apparently they never are. ... But so long as I can power-on this Sony, I can get the pictures out of it. ... But I must admit, a working card reader, when I finally broke down and got one, feels wonderful. ... No doubt traumatic stress disorder from the days with rs232 and the eye of a newt....

more silly cameras....